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Slovakia issues sportsbetting blacklist

casino blacklistLast year Slovakia passed amended legislation which meant that all firms had to obtain a local license before being allowed to offer their services to players in the Eastern European. This week they have officially issued an inaugural sports betting blacklist which features ten names, including big brands such as William Hill, Bet365, 888 Holdings, Bet-A-Home and Bwin. The Finance Ministry also announced that 17 warnings had been issued to other online operators. The warnings asked for the casino’s in question to terminate all local services within ten days. Firms that continue to provide casino services to Slovakia without authorisation could be subject to fines of up to $576,600.

A Controversial Decision

The amended online gaming legislation in 2016 means that all operators must agree to a 27% tax on gross gaming revenues. In response to this amendment, some casino operators exited the market. It is important to note that, access to the blacklisted firms domains has not yet been officially blocked. Two operators have voluntarily withdrawn their services from Slovakia. The Finance Ministry stated that in the absence of voluntarily withdrawal, they will seek court orders against specific operators in the weeks to come. They also said that they would put pressure on local financial institutions to cease processing payments on behalf of any blacklisted operator. Local internet service providers expressed their frustration at the government for imposing a responsibility to clamp down on the operators, without prior warning or an allocation of funds to account for the extra work.

Slovakia have pulled the plug on both land-based and online casino operations. The onset of the blacklist was a decision from officials in Bratislava to ban all land-based gambling from the first day of May. However, current license holders have been given permission to continue their operations until their existing authorisation expires. This controversial decision means that approximately 432,000 residents will no longer have access to a local casino after Banco Casino’s license expires in 2021. It is clear that Slovakia’s attitude towards gambling has harshened and big brands will either have to accept the 27% tax or face hefty fines.

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